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22 September 2020

In this blog, Cyberhawk CIO Nick Stewart explores how the use of data visualization software has accelerated growth in inspection services, and considers the top five trends we can expect to see over the next five years.

In this data-driven age, as businesses strive to make ever better-informed decisions across all aspects of their operations, one thing is clear - everything starts with capturing good data.

Information from sensors, drones, website forms, smart phones…there really is no shortage of data; the real challenge has been harnessing the technology to process it in an intelligent way, so that it delivers usable insights.

In the past year, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the volume of data customers have access to. In particular, drone inspection has delivered a real step change, and it is the sheer volume of data available that has driven the demand for iHawk, our data visualization software.

Previously many customers simply could not cope with the volume of drone data at their fingertips. They didn’t have the means to process it or view it. iHawk allows them to do both, but it has also shone a light on hidden data. As a result, we are now helping to free this valuable information out from the data silos and structure and visualize it in a way that is immediately meaningful to our customers.

What this step change has revealed is that when you bring all of the data together in iHawk, and it becomes possible to apply keyword searches allowing for more targeted results, then individual users can get direct access to the information they want, when they want it, and where they want it. And now the concept of ‘segmentation of one’ is the key driver for data visualization.

Looking further ahead

Now that the value of highly tailored data visualization is better understood, it has highlighted several trends in demand and development that we expect to see gain more traction in the next few years.

1. The use of data in the COVID-19 era

We have seen a response to COVID-19 with businesses looking for opportunities to capture more data remotely, which has quickly increased the types of data that they capture. They want to make their operations more efficient, whilst reducing the number of people that need to visit a site. For example, we have seen novel uses for geospatial tracking in areas as diverse as recording and visualizing the inspection results for toilet facilities on construction sites in real time. An activity previously used for traditional high-risk assets such as scaffolding.

This has been driven by COVID-19 as employers are under increasing pressure to ensure facilities are regularly cleaned. The data gathered can provide a complete inspection history based on the same principles that would apply to the inspection of industrial equipment, such as a high pressure valve.

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2. The digitization of form data

The digitization movement is definitely gaining momentum – primarily around taking paper-based processes and turning them into digital data. Most companies have huge amounts of data sitting in forms, and until now they have all had their own ways of accessing and using that data. We’re not in the business of replacing form providers, but we do want to integrate their data into iHawk so that the user can come to one place and see everything. To address this, we have added functionality to integrate iHawk with any external form provider, and to then analyze and visualize insights from these form types regardless of the source. So, all data can be visualized in the same place.

3. The democratization of data

In the past, companies, and even departments within one company, have tried to protect their data fearing that if they release it, value would be lost. But realistically that’s no longer possible or desirable. We now see efforts to break down those data silos to gain a single source of the truth. We talk about iHawk being a democratization tool, so that more departments, and more people, have access to the data and can run their own analysis to unearth the insights and trends that are important to them. It is this increasingly open access to data that many sectors are really beginning to explore. More and more people are aware the data exists and are asking: “how can it help us improve?”

4. Advanced sensors and 3D modeling

Deploying sensors across industries is not new, but there’s now an interest in network-attached systems that are very quickly and easily deployed and can feed directly into iHawk.

With greater volumes of higher quality data being captured, we are also seeing opportunities for improved 3D visualization. This is the key to presenting more data in user-friendly formats. Forms and spreadsheets do the job, but 3D modelling brings a new level of accuracy when interpreting data. We are able to offer our customers the feeling that they’re actually standing on site looking at an asset in real life, which can’t be compared.

5. The rise of AI and automation

Finally, looking further ahead, an important trend is automation. Lots of people talk about AI but that alone is not really what the end users want – they care about the right results to help them make the right decisions.

We are now creating our own AI models based on our in-depth engineering expertise. We’ve always approached these challenges from a purely engineering background and this has been the foundation of iHawk’s success from day one. We’re not just throwing data at people and telling them to go find their own insights, we use an engineering perspective to ensure we provide our customers with the insights they need most to add real value to their operations.

Interested to learn how Cyberhawk can help your business through digital transformation?

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